Cutting back on plastics and pollution is a mammoth goal but not a priority for many developed countries. Single-use plastic bans have only come into effect in the last decade and in a limited number of countries and cities. Even with the decrease of single-use plastic in restaurants and stores, an abundance of household items we use regularly still contribute to the plastic problem. Some of these include dish detergent pods, detergent bottles, sponges, food and beverage bottles, plastic wraps, and many more. As mentioned in our last article about microplastics, plastics make their way into our water supply and environment, producing carbon emissions and carcinogenic properties.
Microplastics act as a double-edged sword for our health and the environment, and change is required from all levels of society: government, business, and the individual. This story is about an individual who turned his environmental values into a thriving business. His green business helps serve thousands of customers with the aim of turning the tide around for the planet.
James Roberts, the founder of Nellie’s dedicated his life’s work to honour his mother Nellie’s green attitude and values. He developed an entire line of eco-friendly cleaning products free of toxins and phosphates to help “keep the planet as spotless as our clothes!” Nellie’s is famous for toxin-free “Dryerballs,” solid detergent “Nuggets,” “WOW” Mop, and Baby Laundry products. Recently, they developed the “Forever Brush” and “Dish Butter” duo to keep your dishes clean without sending single-use plastic bottles to landfills and waterways or ever having to throw away another sponge.
In this interview, we cover how the brand started, the key values that drive the business, and what’s anticipated for the future.
1. What inspired the founding of your brand?
Nellie’s was inspired by, you guessed it, Nellie! She was a real person with real values. She believed in honesty and simplicity and was going green before the colour was cool!
Nellie’s is a family-owned and operated Canadian brand located in North Vancouver, BC – and has been in business for 20 years.
2. What are your brand’s core values?
Nellie’s strives to make planet-friendly, simple, and honest products for the whole home.
3. Describe one way you try to keep innovating with your brand.
Nellie’s takes everyday household products - simplifies and elevates them. We strive to develop products and packaging that are different and stand out from our competition, using our core values as a guide.
4. Talk about a roadblock or a challenge you faced as a business owner; have you overcome this? If so, please tell us how you did or how you’re working on it.
A roadblock for us in our quest to be plastic-free was the switch to glass packaging for our liquids. We swapped our plastic bottle packaging for frosted glass, only to find out that it cracked and froze during winter shipping. We are currently developing alternatives to liquid products. Not only be planet-friendly but also offer zero-waste options.
5. What inspires you to keep going every day?
Our customer! Nellie’s has a very loyal customer base that pushed us from a single SKU (The Dryerball) to the full line of products we carry today. A Nellie’s customer trusts that if we produce it - it works!
6. How did you know you had a good product-market fit?
When information about the impact Dryer sheets were having on skin, clothing and the environment started circulating years ago, there was no solution. It was between having static and stiff fibres or continue using sheets despite the toxins. Nellie’s brought Dryerballs to market as a planet-friendly and effective solution to a common problem.
7. What are your aspirations for your brand 10 years from now?
Nellie’s would love to be the global favourite for planet-friendly cleaning!